GMC Has No Hummer EV Test Mules Yet

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

You likely know that lead times in the automotive industry are long when it comes to developing new or significantly redesigned models.

You also likely know that one of the reasons for the long lead times is that automakers spend a lot of time testing prototypes, putting untold numbers of miles on test mules on public roads, at dedicated proving grounds, and in harsh weather environments.

Yet, the newly introduced GMC Hummer EV is just beginning to undergo testing.

That’s shocking, given that GMC plans to launch the truck just about a year from now.

“Interestingly enough, we don’t have a vehicle yet,” chief engineer Al Oppenheiser (formerly the Chevrolet Camaro’s chief engineer) told Green Car Reports. “We’re building our first test vehicle as we speak; the vehicle you see in the video is our display vehicle.”

This, to put it mildly, is unusual. So, too, is the Hummer’s greenlight-to-launch time. GM gave the go-ahead in April 2019. That means if the launch of the Hummer EV proceeds on schedule and launches in the fall of next year, that’s about two and a half years from conception to launch. Fairly short of the typical three to five years, and perhaps an industry first, according to GCR. All the more unusual given that the truck is an EV, and while EV tech isn’t all that new, it’s still new enough, especially in terms of mass production, that it’s surprising to have such a short lead time.

Oppenheiser told GCR that the fact that some of the EV underpinnings are modular has been a time-saver. GM also claims that while the test mules are just now being built, the Ultium battery packs are fully ready to go.

Compare 30 months of research and development to what the report says is “at least” five years for the mid-engine C8 Corvette, and the mind boggles a bit. Many of the engineers on the Hummer team moved over from Corvette.

The short lead time might make worrywarts nervous about quality, while the optimists among us might wonder if GM and GMC can learn lessons that help shorten lead times across the industry. There’s also every chance that this is just a one-time thing, and that even if lessons are learned that improve the development process and build quality doesn’t suffer, lead times might not be shortened for other vehicles.

There’s also no guarantee that the Hummer launches on time, and that may not be GMC’s fault. Yes, of course, delays in development could occur as testing reveals problems that need to be ironed out. But as the current Corvette shows, external factors could delay production. The C8 has been slowed by strike, COVID, and parts shortages. The same fate could await the Hummer.

The future will be the present soon enough. For now, one can gaze upon GMC with awe or horror or a mixture of both for proceeding in this fashion.

[Image: GMC]

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for, CarFax,, High Gear Media, Torque News,,, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as,, and He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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3 of 8 comments
  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Oct 22, 2020

    You guys are funny. Probably never worked at start up. What tests? QA costs money and time. And time is money too. Developers will run unit tests. Is that not enough? Time to market is more important and service packs will always follow.

  • Imagefont Imagefont on Oct 23, 2020

    Testing schmesting. At GM we don’t test anything - our customers do.

  • Bob65688581 We bought zillions of German cars, despite knowing about WWII slave labor. Refusing to buy something for ideological reasons is foolish.Both the US and the EU have imposed tariffs, so the playing field is level. I'll buy the best price/quality, regardless of nationality.Another interesting question would be "Would you buy one of the many new European moderate-price EVs?" but of course they aren't sold here.Third interesting question: "Why won't Stellantis sell its best products in America?"
  • Freshblather No. Worried there will be malicious executable code built into the cars motherboard that could disable the Chinese cars in the event of hostilities between the west and China.
  • Bd2 Absolutely not - do not want to support a fascist, totalitarian regime.
  • SCE to AUX The original Capri was beautiful. The abomination from the 90s was no Capri, and neither is this.It looks good, but too similar to a Polestar. And what's with the whacked price?
  • Rover Sig Absolutely not. Ever.